Richmond, Va.
Friday, July 25, 2014

VCU Alumni Association Launches First International Chapter

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Virginia Commonwealth University Alumni Relations Association launched a Middle East chapter, its first international chapter, on May 3 at VCUQatar as part of the 10th commencement activities on that campus.

The chapter will serve all VCU alumni living in the Middle East, including those graduating from both VCU and VCUQatar. Gordon McDougall, assistant vice president for alumni relations, said VCUQatar students and alumni were adamant that they wanted to be part of the broader VCU community and not split off into an individual entity. That was one reason the Middle East chapter, which will be based at VCUQatar, is not restricted to graduates from the Qatar campus.

McDougall, who was part of the VCU delegation in attendance at commencement, said VCUQatar students demonstrated obvious school pride, including snapping up the VCU Final Four T-shirts that he shipped over – even when the students were not sure what the Final Four was.  

“It was very exciting to be there and to see their enthusiasm for VCU and the emphasis that they put on being a part of Virginia Commonwealth University and not of something separate,” McDougall said. “The loyalty factor for their school is very high.”

The genesis of the formation of the Middle East chapter was a conversation Monica Rao, VCU’s international alumni relations liaison, had with VCUQatar alumni, who wanted more interaction between Qatar and the U.S. campus. Rao said more was needed to be done to make sure the commitment of the alumni remained lasting and strong because “connecting them not only expands knowledge of culture, but also promotes dialogue and understanding.”

VCU alumni representing every country in the Middle East were in attendance for the launch of the new alumni chapter, according to McDougall. The VCU Alumni Association is also starting a branch of its student outreach program, Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow, at VCUQatar.

The launch event was attended by a delegation from the university that, in addition to McDougall, included Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU; members of the Board of Visitors and the VCU Alumni Association; Monica Rao, international alumni relations liaison; Joseph Seipel, dean of VCU School of the Arts;  Timothy Hulsey, Ph.D., dean of the Honors College; and Pam DiSalvo Lepley, executive director of university relations.

McDougall said the Middle East chapter likely will be the first of several international alumni chapters that the university opens as it reaches out to its alumni living around the world.

Alumni representing the VCU campuses - Munthir Kuzayli (VCUQatar), Ryan Haynes (Monroe Park) and Ayesha Al Muftah (MCV) – present the VCU Alumni Association Chapter Charter to VCU President Michael Rao and VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone
(Seated) Sana Al-Buainain, director of Alumni Affairs at VCUQatar, VCU International Alumni Relations Liaison Monica Rao, VCU President Michael Rao, VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone and (standing second from the left) Gordon McDougall, assistant vice president Alumni Relations with VCU alumni during the event at VCUQatar